The nurses found that talking with patients and their families improved their understanding of their medication regimen and increased compliance. But the nurses struggled with patients discontinuing medications because of side effects.
The study “confirmed that if they felt a med was not helping them or made them feel worse, they stopped taking it,” Costa says. “How they identified which medication was random. It could be a blood pressure pill or a blood thinner pill. They would select one or two and they would stop taking them if they felt it was affecting them. It wasn’t related to particular side effects and it was pretty random as to which one they didn’t take.”
In some cases, the most important nurse intervention was counseling patients to tell their doctors that they were not taking or had problems with particular medications.
Costa ran the pilot study on a small budget and hopes to examine the larger implications of the findings with further research. She says the initial results indicate that home visits provide a good return on investment.
“If you look at the costs that hospitals will spend to reduce readmissions, the cost of this program is not that significant,” she says. “We’re seeing patients in our local area, so it’s feasible to do. There is value to be had and I don’t think it’s exceedingly costly.”